Paul's Letter to the Galatians--Part III
What does Paul encourage the Galatians to do? What does he discourage them from doing?
What warning does Paul offer, and what question does he ask?
An interesting question arises in connection with Galatians 5:11. Apparently, the false teachers in Galatia were saying that Paul, too, taught that you had to be circumcised even though he had not done so while in Galatia. What evidence would they have cited to support their claim? Those who feel that the letter to the Galatians was written during the Third Missionary Journey point to the fact that in Acts 16:1-5 Paul had Timothy circumcised so as not to offend the Jews. This was done as a matter of Christian liberty. The false teachers, however, could have easily misinterpreted that action as meaning Paul did actually teach circumcision.
We, however, as mentioned earlier (cf. Note 45) have assumed that the letter was written prior to the Second Missionary Journey either before or while on the way to the Jerusalem Council depicted in Acts 15. The actions of Paul with regard to Timothy would then have not yet occurred. Upon what would the false teachers have based their claim? This leads us to a consideration of the incident described by Paul in Galatians 2:1-5, in which Paul states that, "Not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised." Most Bible scholars have assumed that what Paul means is that Titus was not circumcised—that Paul in fact used Titus as his "test case" to prove that believers did not need to be circumcised. But is this necessarily so? Notice that Paul does not say that Titus was "not circumcised," but rather that he was "not compelled to be circumcised." It is quite probable that Titus was circumcised willingly and as a matter of Christian freedom for the very same reason that Paul later circumcised Timothy—to avoid possible offense. The section would then mean that when the Jews attempted to use Titus as an example that circumcision was in fact necessary, Paul refused to yield this point in any way so as to protect the liberty of other Gentile believers. The false teachers in Galatia could have pointed to Titus as support for their false claim, thus making it necessary for Paul to explain the situation in Galatians 2:1-5 and 5:11 .
How is the gospel of grace to be put into practical use in our lives?
What conflict within the believer does Paul here describe? What warning does Paul give those who practice the "works of the flesh"? What are the "fruits of the Spirit"?
List the seven commands Paul gives in Galatians 6:1-10 concerning the Christian life.
What judgment does Paul make concerning the motives of the Judaizers? How does he end his letter?
Reread Galatians 5:9 . What is Paul’s warning? How ought we apply that warning today?
Reread Galatians 5:16 . What is Paul’s advice? How might we apply that advice to our lives today?
Reread Galatians 5:22-23 . How doe the virtues of the "man of God" differ from and conflict with those of the "man of the world"?
Reread Galatians 5:26 . Why does Paul add a special warning against conceit and envy after describing the "fruits of the Spirit" and the nature of the Christian life?
Reread Galatians 6:1 . How might we be tempted when seeking to restore a fallen brother or sister in Christ?